Two Red Canoes

Camping and canoeing resources.

Backcountry First-Aid Kit

When participating in a wilderness camping trip, whether for 1 day or weeks at a time, it is important to have a good first-aid kit with you. I personally maintain two first-aid kits: a "personal" first-aid kit and a "group" first-aid kit. I bring both on a canoe trip or hiking trip if I am the trip organizer but might only bring my personal kit if another member of the tripping party has been assigned the group first-aid kit.

A "group" sized first-aid kit is ideally waterproof, large enough to hold the contents and easily identifiable as a first-aid kit. A couple of options are:

The following items make up my first-aid kits. The exact contents vary from time to time as items are used and then restored. The length of your trip and the number of participants will also be a factor when deciding what contents and quantities you bring. Special medical needs (allergies or asthma, for example) of you or others in your party should also be considered.

Important: These lists are to provide you with ideas only - I do not purport to be an expert. Do additional research and consult experts when building your own first-aid kit. In addition to having first-aid items you must know how to use them properly - a course on first-aid, especially a wilderness first-aid course for back-country trippers, is invaluable. Always follow the directions and advice of a physician when taking medications.

Group First-Aid Kit

  • SOAP Notes - Subjective Assessment, Objective Assessment, Assessment Summary, Plan
  • Water-resistant band-aids
  • Plastic scissor clamp
  • SAM Splint (36")
  • Tweezers
  • Tick Remover Tweezers
  • Alcohol Prep Pad (x3)
  • Sterilized Splinter Remover (x2)
  • Insect Sting Relief Medicated Pad (x2)
  • Sterilized Gauze Bandage (10.2 cm x 9.1 m) (x2)
  • Q-Tips (x10)
  • Small Plain Wound Dressing (No. 13 Standard Dressing)
  • Dressing Retention Tape (ex. Hypafix)
  • Gauze Bandage (1 inch x 6 yards)
  • Bandages of various sizes (~20)
  • 3M Tegaderm Sterile Dressings (10cm x 12 cm) (~3)
  • Butterfly Closures (medium) (~10)
  • "New Skin" Antiseptic Liquid Bandage (10 ml)
  • Travel Wipes (x2)
  • Arm Sling (x2)
  • Sterile Eye Pad (x1)
  • Safety Pins (x4)
  • Mole Skin (4 inch x 6 inch sheet)
  • Over-The-Counter Pain Killers/Anti-Inflammatory
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) (~10)
    • Acetylsalicylic Acid (Aspirin) 325 mg (~20)
    • Ibuprofen (Advil) 200 mg (~10)
  • Elastic "Tensor" Bandage (10 cm x 4 m)
  • Antibiotic Ointment (30 g) (Polysporin)
  • Betadine (10% Providone Iodine) (topical antiseptic agent)
  • Visine (15 ml)
  • Dimenhydrinate (Gravol) 75 mg (5)
  • Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride (Benadryl) 25 mg (~15)
  • Loperamide Hydrochloride 2mg (~4)
  • Epinephrine (Epi-Pen)


Personal First-Aid Kit

  • Ibuprofen 200 mg (~6)
  • Acetylsalicylic Acid (Aspirin) 325 mg (~6)
  • Bandages of various sizes (~5)
  • Mole skin
  • Lip balm (medicated with SFP 15-30 UV protection)
  • Epinephrine (Epi-Pen)


As a quick reference, print this cheat sheet, laminate it and include in your first-aid kit.
Benadryl (Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride)
- for relief of hay fever symptoms and allergic reactions
- one or two 25 mg caplets 3 or 4 times daily (less for children)
Loperamide Hydrochloride
- for relief of diarrhea
- two 2 mg caplets initially followed by 1 caplet after each loose bowel movement
- maximum of 8 caplets per day
Gravol (Dimenhydrinate)
- for prevention of motion sickness
- take 1 or 2 (50 or 75 mg) tablets 1/2 to one hour before required
- anti-inflammatory/pain reliever/fever reducer
- take 1 or 2 (200 mg) tablets every 4 to 6 hours. Do not exceed 6 tablets in a 24 hr period.